NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Suicide Increasing Among The Young

July 16, 2001

Despite the graying of the world's population, suicide is occurring increasingly among the young, say experts.

  • Around the world, approximately one million people a year take their own lives.
  • The largest proportion of suicides are now committed by persons under the age of 45.
  • The global suicide rate has risen dramatically since the 1950s, and the World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2020 the rate will increase by approximately 50 percent over current rates.
  • Some 10 to 20 times more people will attempt to kill themselves each year.

This "ungraying" of suicide, traditionally associated with later life, acquires a dramatic aspect when one considers that the proportion of elderly people in the total population is increasing at a greater rate than that of younger people.

The lowest suicide rates around the world are found in the eastern Mediterranean, comprising mostly countries that follow Islamic traditions. The highest international rates are found in Europe, particularly eastern Europe, in a group of countries that share similar genetic, historical and sociocultural characteristics, such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Yet Canada, which consistently gets into the top three countries for quality of life in international league tables, has twice the suicide rate of India.

Source: Raj Persaud, Review of Danuta Wasserman, ed., "Suicide: An Unnecessary Death," British Medical Journal, July 14, 2001.


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